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A to Z of Mantrailing UK

Updated: Apr 13



A – Association – Building up positive associations while learning mantrailing is the key to all of it. The association that the misper has run off with their food or a toy. The association between the scent article and the trail to find the misper. These positive associations keep the dog coming back for more.

B – Bond building - Doing mantrailing will build a stronger bond between you and your dog, as you learn to put your trust into them. We allow them to take the driver’s seat and build confidence as they learn about the game.

C – Cues – We use different cues to get the dog into ‘mantrailing mode’. The command to take scent or our trail command. We also use the harness as a cue that we are going to be mantrailing by putting it on, and that we have finished by taking it off.

D – Dog – The most important part of mantrailing is your dog, they should always be having fun and learning a new game as they go. Any dog can join in with mantrailing regardless of temperament, age, breed, previous training and disability.

E – End of Trail – This is where the reward needs to be so the dogs stay motivated to keep on following trails in the future. We have a party with our dog here so they build a positive association with the game. It should never be a finish where the dog is disheartened, the dog should always be wanting more at the end of it.

F – Foundations – Building in your foundations from the start is incredibly important. Rushing to push your dog too fast will result in mistakes and frustration from the dog who doesn’t get the game. Foundations mean short trails, intensity starts and lots of repetition. Not rushing to get to the next stage all the time.

G – Game – Mantrailing is just a game to the dog, even if you trail operationally they don’t understand the difference between a training session and a real life session. We make all the training as part of Mantrailing UK a fun game for you and your dog to bond over.

H – Harness – The harness needs to be well fitted and not impede the dog’s movement while trailing. We encourage the use of Y front harnesses that don’t impact shoulder movement. The size and design of harness needed will totally depend on your dog, and there is no one size fits all. Mantrailing UK recommend the specifically designed harnesses from Niggeloh.

I – Intensity Trails – These are one of the most important parts of mantrailing as it is the start of your trailing journey and it is the reason the dogs get hooked on the sport so quickly. These are short, fast trails where the dogs get a quick reward for a small amount of work. They make the longer trails worth it. These are used at the start of trails when you first introduce your dog to the sport and are used at the end of every trail to build an intensity for the reward.

J – Junctions – Junctions are part of progressing your dog’s trailing ability. They are places where the scent choice may not be clear and they will have to eliminate other directions the scent could have taken to find the right one.

K – Kocher Method – We use the method designed by Kevin Kocher to train all Mantrailing UK dogs. It involves a specific starting ritual and end ritual for the dogs and helps them to get the game very quickly and strongly reinforces it. It is one of the many reasons dogs and owners alike get hooked on mantrailing so quickly.

L – Long Lines - This is our attachment to the dogs, not only is it there so they don’t run off and follow the misper without us, but it’s also there to keep them safe from hazards such as roads, dogs, livestock etc. It’s a communication tool as well, so we can feel the change in the intensity of the pull or movement as the dog trails.

M – Misper – The misper or missing person is our trail runner, they lay the trail for the dog to follow and are part of the reward at the end.

N – Nose – This is the most important part of the dog’s body when mantrailing. It is the source of information for the brain to process and tell the dogs body where to keep going towards. The dog’s nose is estimated to be between 100,000 and 100,000,000 times more sensitive than a human’s and can tell the time from scents as well as the direction of travel.

O - Observation – Watching your dog trailing is the best way to learn how they trail, understanding when they are on or off the trail. Observing their body language such as head lifts, head flicks, tail carriage and gait change can all be signs of a change in the direction or concentration of scent on the trail.

P – Party – The party takes place at the end of the trail. The party is where we reward the dog for a job well done. This is part of finding the misper and some dogs like to party with the misper, and others like to only party with their person. Partying can take the form of playing with a toy or food, as well as running about; anything the dog likes to do and finds rewarding.

Q – Quality vs Quantity – It can be really tempting to charge ahead and trail as much as possible, but often we can create mistakes by overdoing the wrong thing such as helping the dog or letting them fail too often. Part of mantrailing is making sure the dog succeeds every time they trail, and this means quality short trails laying the foundations before advancing too far.

R – Reward – Finding the best reward for your dog, it could be cat food, cream cheese, a ball or a party play time with your dog at the end. This can take some trial and error to find, and what we prefer is not always what the dog prefers.

S – Scent Article – This is how the dog knows who to trail after. The scent article can be something the misper has worn, or touched, even their vehicle. We can even create a scent article for missing people. Scent article starts are where the dog only sees the article, takes scent from it, and then finds the misper off the scent alone, without seeing the person go.

T – Trailing – This is the act of following the scent left by the misper, this is what the game is all about. The trail follows the scent left behind which is a mixture of skin rafts, pheromones and anything else the person is wearing. The scent left behind is affected by the weather and environment as well, all of which needs to be taken into effect when trailing after the misper.

U – Understanding – Mantrailing with your dog helps not only to build a bond, but also to build understanding on what makes your dog tick. It can help you identify when your dog is truly working their brain and on the task at hand, or when they are just going through the motions. You also get to understand what your dog’s best reward is, and how they love to have a party. This understanding helps you in the real world with other training, or just living together in harmony.

V – Value – Building value for the trail takes time and this starts with the use of intensity trails. We want to build up a value in trailing by making it always exciting and rewarding at the end. The Kocher method we use builds the value for the trail by using intensity trails at the start and end of the trail, so the dog gets double the reward on every trail.

W – Walk Don’t Run – We never run with our dogs when mantrailing, it can be tempting to run after a dog who is a strong or a fast trailer. You can never outrun your dog, so learning to anchor back your weight is much safer.

X – X And Your Done – Planning your training and marking off when you succeed helps you build good progress, it also helps you work on the things you are struggling with as you can plot your progress. It also creates a great feeling to be able to mark off the points as you reach them, this is why we created the three Mantrailing UK levels and the progression booklet to help you plot the progress.



Y – You – You are part of the experience as the handler. You must learn to not get in your dog’s way, to handle the line in a way that doesn’t influence them and be there when needed to help your dog succeed. You are 50% of the team and should have as much fun as the dog.

Z – ZZZZZ – After using their brain and body to find their missing person, most dogs are out for the count after their mantrailing sessions. Because it has such a big impact on their brain in a good way, we are often told how tired out the dogs are after mantrailing.

To find your nearest Mantrailing UK Instructor to get started check out our interactive instructor map - https://www.mantrailinguk.com/find-an-instructor

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